Celebrations as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe resigns

Cheryl Sanders
November 22, 2017

It capped an unprecedented week in which the military seized control, tens of thousands of Zimbabwean citizens took to the streets to demand the president go and 93-year-old Mugabe wrestled to remain in power.

The ruling party, ZANU-PF, said it planned to move a motion to formally expel Mugabe, who has been clinging on to the presidency despite a military takeover last week.

In scenes reminiscent of the downfall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, men, women and children ran alongside the armored cars and troops who stepped in this week to oust the man who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980. Grace Mugabe is under house arrest and her key political allies are in military custody.

Celebrations as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe resigns

For many Africans, Mr. Mugabe continues to be the nationalist hero, this continent's final independence innovator plus a symbol of its battle to throw off this legacy involving decades with colonial subjugation.

- November 15: By the early hours, military vehicles are on the capital's streets, but the army denies staging a coup, giving a televised address saying Mugabe is safe and that they are "only targeting criminals around him".

The prospect of Grace Mugabe in power horrified the generals and other senior elements in Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, who despise the First Lady's lavish lifestyle and were suspicious of her political ambitions. In his absence, the Speaker of Parliament would ordinarily step in.

"ZANU-PF is nothing without President Mugabe".

Zanu-PF's Patrick Chinamasa could hardly finish his announcements as celebrations broke when he declared the official axing of Mugabe as party leader.

2017: Sacks long-time ally Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for his wife Grace to succeed him.

Mugabe is revered by some as an elder statesman and independence leader but also reviled by many in Africa and overseas who accuse him of resorting to violence to retain power while running a once promising economy into the ground.

Speaking before the meeting, Mutsvangwa said Mugabe, who has so far resisted calls to quit, was running out of time to negotiate his departure and should leave the country while he could.

Mugabe rose to power as a freedom fighter and was once regarded as Zimbabwe's own Nelson Mandela, but he quickly waged a campaign of oppression to shore up his authority, extinguishing the political opposition through violent crackdowns. Its flourishing economy began to disintegrate after a program of land seizures from white farmers, and agricultural output plummeted and inflation soared.

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